December 05, 2010

Kofi Sammy

As I have written before, I am a bit of an ignoramus when it comes to Ghanian highlife. It doesn't mean, however, that I don't have some preferences within the broad scope (both in time and in variety) of this music.

And Sammy Kofi (often referred to as Kofi Sammy) and his Okukuseku International are certainly among my favourites. Or perhaps I should write "were". Because I am not too sure about Mr. Kofi's more recent exploits. I refer you to a video on YouTube in which he confesses to be with "Jesssusss"....

I prefer his work from the 1970s and 1980s, and particularly the lp I am sharing with you in this post (although the one I posted earlier is also high on my list).

A quick study reveals that Sammy Kofi started Okukuseku in 1969, as "Okukuseku's No. 2 Guitar Band" initially (?). He had a background in the concert parties, which developed into guitar band highlife. He went through some famous orchestras before founding Okukuseku, notably E.K Nyame No.1 Band and Dr. K. Gyasi's Noble Kings. Okukuseku soon established itself as one of the leading guitar band highlife acts in Ghana. Despite the band's success, the "economy"* forced them to move to Nigeria at the end of the 1970s. Fortunately they continued recording, this time for Rogers All Stars.

I would like to draw your attention, by the way, to this site where a Canadian musician claims his father had a record of Okukuseku's No.2 Band from 1967. This seems to confirm my impression that there are still a lot of subjects to be researched more closely when it comes to highlife music...

Zooming in on the album I am particularly impressed by the overall quality of the music. The vocals are harmonious, the guitars are sparkling, the rhythm is jumpy and yet flowing. It is not hard to draw comparisons to East-Nigerian stars like Stephen Osita Osadebe, yet Okukuseku retains its own strong originality. I gather they sang (continued singing) in Twi, but must have made some allowances for their Nigerian audience as well.
I suspect the track "Maria" is one of those. As it happens, this is my favourite among favourites. This song has it all: great composition, great guitars, great vocals, lyrics with a touch of the dramatic, and Mr. Kofi talking, addressing Maria, imploring her to come back to him.

RASLPS 007
or RASLPS 007

* a word which nowadays can be used in any sentence, replacing "hard luck", "divine intervention", "the hand of God" and such.

12 comments:

John B. said...

Thanks for this. okukuseku are a favorite of mine as well. I have a few more albums by them, and was planning to post them (or selections from them) some day. Unless you were planning to?

WrldServ said...

I have no short term plans for more Okukuseku. So please (!) go ahead!!

Anonymous said...

At john B (or can WrldServ help?)

Where do you post your stuff?

Sincerely

wuod k

ken_yatta said...

Thanks for the upload. Kofi Sammy's music can be found on emusic, Amazon and other mp3 retailers. Also, two other great Ghanaian bands, Original Beach Scorpians Band of Ghana led by Anthony Scorpion - Mensee Medzin - RASLPS 022 & Opambuo International Band of Ghana led by Nana Agyemang Opambuo - My Darling - RAS RASLP 034 also spent time in Nigeria and recorded on Rogers All Stars.

Thanks

WrldServ said...

@wuod k: Please use the e-mail address in my profile for questions not relating to a post. In this case I suppose the question is one for John and his great Likembe blog, and I have forwarded your mail to him...

John B. said...

Wuod: I use Dreamhost for individual files, Mediafire for zipped files.

Oro said...

Hello brother and brothers (and sisters),
I think I have problems with Megaupload. The link looks like busy ?!
Best regards.

dailyleftover said...

always great to hear Okukuseku#2 Would be great to learn a bit more about these guys so please, one of you, let us know.
But a record from '67 seems very unlikely, as first part of this story is also written in backsleeve notes on their first album .
Anybody knows when Bosoe Special is made.. one of my favourites, although this one you now post i never heard before :) going to enjoy, thanks!

WrldServ said...

@Oro: I have added a second link (to another server).

@dailyleftover: I agree, 1967 seems unlikely. There is a lot of repeating of the same info though, and that can be very dangerous too...

Anonymous said...

Looking for Otoo Larte's Band music ..Any help

glinka21 said...

Akwasi Beats just put up part of an album by Kofi Sammy:

http://akwasibeats.wordpress.com/

Patrick Bailey said...

Wonderful blog! Just curious about any information on Water Proof.. This is such an amazing record, the dialog that the two guitarists have on here.. I'm a guitarist myself and I've been listening to it so much I've started to transcribe these wonderful guitar lines.